Society is the emergence of culture and with culture comes expression. Design allows social groups to continually construct, challenge and create a voice in a world crammed with cultural beliefs and political values. Design is the sole method of visual communication and is something we see, probably without realising, every day. At instantprint, we’re really passionate about all areas of design and thought we'd explore this a little bit further.
Signs & Signifiers
Throughout our lives we make decisions (often unconsciously) about what to wear, what to say and how to look. All these things create meaning, which can ultimately affect the way we’re perceived in a social environment. Design is a visual representation of a signifier, meaning it’s purposefully designed to resonate with someone – it doesn’t occur accidentally and that’s why we love it.
People often imagine design to be illustrations, posters, and touchy feely things, but actually, an essential part of design are the things we don’t see. Most household and workplace items are ergonomically designed for optimum efficiency. Ergonomics is the science of equipment design, and without it you might be seriously uncomfortable in your office chair. It’s kind of crazy to think that loads of people are paid to research what shapes work best for humans to sit on.
Graphic design is an instrument of culture and an often overlooked aspect of society. Organising information to convey a message with maximum impact is a definite art form and it’s something that’s evolved with us. We’ve become much better at communicating messages to a specific audience.
Design Functions in Marketing
We’re currently obsessing over how meanings are created and the study of semiotics is where we ended up. It got us thinking about how signs and signifiers are prevalent in marketing campaigns and how messages are placed in campaigns to trigger responses in our brain. A great example of this would be the Kony ‘Invisible Children’ campaign which went viral in 2012.
The campaign achieved close to 100,000,000 views on YouTube, global coverage on some of the world’s most influential sites and backing from A list celebrities. Below we look at exactly what it takes to make a powerful and shareable campaign:
- Stirring curiosity – Other than the video’s obvious slick editing techniques and powerful imagery, it has an intro that really demands our attention. The filmmaker halts the audience with this line “the next 27 minutes are an experiment but in order for it to work, you have to pay attention” – chilling, right?
- Emotionally encapsulating – The video pulls on every emotion possible to reign us in: anger, humour, empowerment, despair – it’s all there and takes us on an emotional rollercoaster.
- Appeals to the social media generation – this video was designed to be shared through social media. The first few minutes of the film is all about massaging the viewer’s ego on how they have the ability to change the world and spread the message through the social medium. The video shows us snippets of Facebook and Twitter which obviously appeals to the tech savvy.
- Simple, focused messaging – taking a highly complex issue and turning into something a child can understand is what this video literally did. The storytelling included filmmaker, Jason Russell, explaining this all to his five-year old son; sending a message which the audience could relate to.
- Colours, fonts, imagery – aside from the video, there were accompanying materials such as posters and flyers that were designed to create conversation outside of a digital environment. Primary colours, bold text and stencil-like imagery were all part of a wider marketing strategy to drive interest and get people asking questions.